15 thoughts: IceCaps beat P-Bruins, 4-0

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15 thoughts: IceCaps beat P-Bruins, 4-0

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Here are Joe Haggerty's thoughts from the Providence Bruins - St. John's IceCaps game at the Dunkin Donuts Center

FIRST PERIOD, 2-0 ICECAPS

1) First time in a couple of months that Michael Hutchinson gets the back-to-back starts and he allows a couple of tipped goals on 11 shots faced. Tough to blame him on either of them, both were high shots tipped over his shoulders.

2) Active first period for Craig Cunningham, who had a couple of the best scoring chances for the P-Bruins. One came on a breakaway attempt stopped by the St. John's goaltender, and the other was a screened shot through the high slot. He led Providence with three shots on net in the first and tied with Derek Meech for the game-high.

3) Tough period for Jordan Caron, who took a pair of penalties -- with one that led to a St. John's power play goal. It's good to see Caron get a little more physical -- he dropped the gloves for his first career pro hockey fight this weekend -- but he needs to play that game with discipline rather than landing in the box for elbowing and high-sticking calls.

4) No Ryan Spooner this afternoon. No Jared Knight (hamstring) and no Torey Krug either. That makes for an extremely undermanned P-Bruins unit.

5) Providence penalty kill unit continues to come up short. One goal by St. John's came on the man advantage and continue to light the P-Bruins most glaring team weakness.

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Here are five thoughts from the second period with the P-Bruins trailing the St. John's IceCaps by a 3-0 score after 40 minutes of action at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

SECOND PERIOD, 3-0 ICECAPS

1) Michael Hutchinson surrendered another power play goal in the second period, and this time it was a high point shot through traffic that the goaltender bobbled in front. Kael Mouillierat smacked in the loose puck for the IceCaps score.

2) A great potential momentum changing shift for the Lane MacDermidChristian HansonBobby Robins energy line in the second period. With the puck deep in the St. John's end MacDermid crushed the IceCaps defenseman with a punishing forecheck. That caused the puck to slide in front of the net to Robbins, but IceCaps goalie Mark Dekanich was able to smother the puck.

3) Another penalty for Jordan Caron in the second period giving him a hat trick of penalties for the game. Caron is looking sluggish and slow to react in his skating this afternoon. When that happens bad things follow the former first round pick.

4) In the good news department Carter Camper is back in the lineup for the P-Bruins and appears to be moving around well on the ice. Has three shots on net through two periods.

5) What a hockey name: Kael Mouillierat. Best one I've come across in the AHL thus far this season. His teammate Maxime Macenauer is no slouch either, however.

THIRD PERIOD, 4-0 ICECAPS

1) A bad David Warsofsky turnover leads to another St. John's goal in the third period. This afternoon is definitely not one to write home about for the Spoked P.

2) Jamie Tardif and Craig Cunningham were the leading attackers in shots on net, but couldn't get anything past St. John's goalie Mark Dekanich.

3) The P-Bruins have outshot St. John's by a 40-27 margin, but it certainly hasn't felt that way in a very one-sided affair.

4) St. John's skater Derek Meech led all forwards with six shots on net, but didn't end up with any points. How about that?

5) Might be time for coach Bruce Cassidy to go back to Niklas Svedberg on Friday and Sunday with Michael Hutchinson on Saturday. Seemed to work well, eh?

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.